Thursday, January 18, 2018

Mexico Diary - Tulum, Turtles and Cenotes

Hey there, guys! Sorry that I didn't post in a while. It was my boyfriend's birthday last weekend and we went on a spontaneous short trip to Barcelona to spend his big day there. Also, I've been working like crazy since I got back from Germany and a full day job unfortunately doesn't leave much time for a blog. Anyway, today I finally have a new post for you about more unforgettable experiences we had in Mexico or more precisely in Tulum.
On our third and last day in Tulum we went on two short trips before leaving for the colonial town Valladolid in the afternoon. Our first stop was the beach in Akumal where we wanted to go swim with turtles. We had never actually planned that trip, I read about the turtles in Akumal the night before and we spontaneously decided that we wanted to go see them because Akumal is just a half-hour drive from Tulum and I had never seen wild turtles in their natural habitat until then. So early in the morning we got on a collectivo van (the same one we took to the ruins on the second day) and went to Akumal. The van left us along the road and we had to walk a bit, only about 5 minutes, to get to the beach. On our way there we passed by lots of locals trying to convince us that you need life jackets to snorkel at the beach and wanting to sell us snorkeling tours. Just ignore these guys, you don't need life jackets nor guided tours to be able to see the turtles even though lots of Mexicans will try to convince you that it's only legal to snorkel with the animals if you're with a guide. I have read about this issue before and informed myself very well therefore I knew that we could just pass by the local vendors and diving schools and go swim with the turtles all by ourselves. Since we had our own snorkels from home with us we just dropped off our backpack at a diving school where you can rent all what you need and went right to the beach. At first it was a little difficult to decide where we could swim because the beach is divided into different areas marked with buoys. Some of these areas can not be accessed by humans, they are there to protect the turtles. When the turtles are stressed or tired or simply hungry and want to eat in peace they can swim there. I love this idea, this way the crazy tourists can't just follow the turtles wherever they want but have to respect their 'private areas'. After snorkeling for a while in the designated areas we saw our first turtle slowly appear from nowhere and swam with it for a while side by side. This was a highly unique experience! To see these wild, calm and big (!) creatures swim and eat so peacefully was simply unforgettable. Akumal is the perfect place for swimming with turtles. The beach itself is beautiful but what's beneath the surface is even more amazing! I mean where can you watch and swim with turtles for free right in the shallow water without having to dive metres and metres? I could have spent hours with these cute animals! We spotted two turtles that morning and what's best is that we were totally alone with them, no one followed us, all the other tourists were swimming in guided groups. We also saw many other beautiful fishes and corals. All in all an unforgettable, marvelous experience that I'm happy we didn't miss!

After snorkeling with these cute turtles we went to the Gran Cenote before taking the bus to Valladolid. We already swam in a cenote before, the Cenote Azul in Bacalar, however that one was deep, very large and dark and we couldn't really see much of the underwater world there. So we wanted to check out a second cenote and decided to give the Gran Cenote in Tulum a try since I had heard mostly positive things about it. We took the collectivo back from Akumal to Tulum town and from there a cab to the cenote. We paid each the 180 Pesos entrance fee (about 9 Euro, pretty expensive in my opinion) and took a shower there. The Gran Cenote is pretty touristy and therefore very well equipped. There is lots of space to relax on a lawn or in hammocks and they also have lockers and showers (it's important to shower BEFORE you go swimming to wash off all the sun lotion or other cosmetics, keeps the cenote clean). After taking a shower we walked down to the cenote. The whole place was really magical but I was mostly impressed by how crystal clear the water was. It seriously felt like swimming through air because you could see everything, I mean every person, little fish and rock formation, without any trouble. The shades of blue when the sun came in were beyond beautiful as well. The cenote was pretty crowded but didn't really feel like it. There was lots of space to snorkel, swim and relax and at times we were totally alone. There are hundreds of mystical, amazing cenotes all over the Yucatan peninsula and I have only seen two of them but I can totally recommend the Gran Cenote in Tulum!

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